Knowledgebase:
What Features To Look For In A Web Hosting Service
Posted by Daniel Naval, Last modified by Daniel Naval on 06 May 2019 08:58 PM

There are millions of new web sites appearing every day. Whether you want to start a blog, a business, share videos, or create an professional portfolio online, you could do so very affordably.

However, you need a web hosting company to publish your site on their internet servers. You’ll find a broad range of providers, but there are certain things to look for if you’re going to get a good hosting experience.

Speed

Speed is an important factor in the success of your website. Fast page loads provide a better experience for your visitors. Slow performance leaves them frustrated. If you’re a business, lost traffic means lost revenue. If your hosting company can’t provide speed, impatient users will avoid your site in the future.

You should also understand that speed affects your search engine rankings. Even if you have other SEO tactics working for you, slow loading of your webiste can undermine your SEO efforts.

When comparing potential web hosts, look for server speed stats. You can find online tools for this. A fast hosting company will always have a high-bandwidth network and the latest technologies like SSD (solid state drives) for faster data access.

Bandwidth

Another key factor in your hosting environment is bandwidth. This is the measure of how much data is exchanged between your website and visitors, usually given over a time period such as by month. However, this is different from data transfer. Data transfer is the total amount of data, while bandwidth is the rate at which data is transferred, usually given as bits (or bytes) per second.

Some hosting companies will charge you according to how much bandwidth is allowed with your hosting plan, while others may charge you for how much you use. More companies are offering hosting plans with unlimited bandwidth, but they may require that certain conditions are met.

If your allotted bandwidth is too low, it affects both the performance and availability of your site. You should periodically check how much bandwidth is used to estimate current and future needs. Always have extra to allow for traffic spikes or rapid growth.

Uptime

When your site is down, potential visitors will not only be disappointed, but may feel that your website is poorly maintained or non-functional. If visitors can’t access your webpage, you’re losing money. With repeated problems, your visitors will stop trying and turn elsewhere.

You need a hosting company that provides a high proportion of uptime, usually 99.9% or better. While no host can guarantee availability 100% of the time, downtime affecting a tiny fraction of your visitors shouldn’t be a problem. Determine the level of uptime each host is promising.

Lower uptimes might be more acceptable for some purposes, such as a blog versus ecommerce. But you always want the highest possible uptime scores by selecting a host that provides powerful servers and secure, stable networks.

Location

Your host’s physical location is also plays a part in your hosting experience. Your data may travel across the internet at lightning speeds, but there is a small time delay when making contact with the servers you must connect with to reach a destination that may be very distant from your own location. This difference can affect performance each time a visitor requests another page or submits information.

For the best speed and most stable connections, the data centres where your host’s servers are geographically located should be within the country where the majority of your users reside. The closer it is, the faster page loading visitors will get. This is especially important if you have primarily local clients who’ll search by metropolitan area. Consistent speed of access will please your visitors and advance your site rank in local search results.

Storage

The amount of disk space you can utilise in support of your site is a major influence on you choice of hosting companies. Over time you’ll have a need for more storage as new apps, graphics, video, additional pages, or growing customer databases eat up more of the server’s hard drive.

While some hosts might provide very limited space and others unlimited space, you’ll be paying according to how much you need. Cheaper budget hosting plans will have low data storage limits. Conversely, you don’t want to waste money paying for storage you’ll never use.

Check on how much disk memory your site files require. This should always include extra space so you have room to grow without having to constantly delete files or upgrade hosting services. Once you’re up and running, track storage growth so you’ll be able to plan for future needs.

Scalable Service

The need to upgrade or downgrade your hosting features can be a critical factor in your choice of hosts, especially if you’re on a tight budget. To avoid waste, you’ll want to be able to downgrade if things are slow, and upgrade when things take off again. Scalability refers to how quickly and easily your host can adjust to your needs.

This is done by adding or subtracting resources, such as RAM, disk storage, or bandwidth. Particularly with a new website, you won’t have a clear idea of how fast your following will grow, or what additional features you’ll need to best satisfy your visitors.

For a growing business, the ability to upgrade allows you to accommodate a growing client base. A website that can’t handle increased traffic and data needs means you’re limiting your business and losing revenue. Your host should provide the scalability to allow for growth.

Control Panel

Look for a hosting company that provides an excellent interface to manage the various aspects and configuration settings for your site. Not all control panels will give you the same functionality or efficiency.

You want an interface that’s quickly accessed and easy to use. An intuitive, graphical control panel will speed the learning curve and make it easy to find what you need. Plesk and cPanel are popular choices, but any third-party interface should make site management as simple as possible.

You control panel should provide capabilities such as FTP (file transfer protocol) for bulk uploads, SSH (secure shell access), an encryption protocol for remote access, and useful data like visitor statistics. You should also determine what features, apps, and utilities are available for installation and how difficult the process will be.

Domain Capacity

While your basic website operates as one domain name, it’s becoming more common for website owners to purchase multiple domain names. Different domain suffixes can take away some of the originality and recognition of your domain name. You could buy something like “BestNewGames.com” only to have other people snatch up BestNewGames.net, .org, .biz, etc., until they’re exploiting or even undermining the brand you worked hard to build.

Choose a web hosting provider that offers support for a wide range of sub-domains, aliases, and domain name services. It’s convenient and often more cost-efficient to find a host that provides tools and low prices for searching and purchasing domains, plus renewals, transfers, and expiry notifications. This way, you can control just as much domain integrity as you can afford.

Security

Every website is at risk from hackers and malware, so strong security measures are a chief concern. Your hosting provider should provide multiple forms of security to safeguard their servers and client websites like yours. The data centre and it’s servers should be physically protected through methods like surveillance cameras, limited access, and intrusion detection systems.

To keep your website files safe and ensure consistent operations, a good hosting company will also provide a variety of security options you can choose from according to your needs and budget. This might include spam filtering and protection to minimize the chance of malicious emails that could introduce viruses or contain deceptive links to scamming sites.

Another vital security measure is access to SSL certificates. These take advantage of Secure Sockets Layer protocols to ensure that communications with your site are fully encrypted. Different types of certificate can afford different levels of protection.

Email Accounts and Features

You’ll also benefit from the ability to use different email accounts. Most hosts will allow you at least one email inbox associated with your domain so you can maintain a professional channel of communication. Depending on the host and the type of account you have, you could be allowed to create a limited number of additional inboxes or even unlimited email accounts.

Multiple accounts can make you seem like a larger organization to build visitor confidence, or allow you to separate and organise your email activity for tracking different promotions or isolating business functions. You should be able to create, delete, and maintain as many email accounts as you need.

Most webmail capabilities will allow you to choose from multiple webmail services and formats, plus add features like mail forwarding, auto responders, saving drafts, archiving, adding contacts, and more to each account as needed.

Support

There’s a good chance you’ll run into problems from time to time, especially when you’re first setting up your website, but also later as you make changes or additions. That’s why it’s important to choose a host that has prompt, reliable, and skilled support staff available to help.

An important part of maximizing your uptime is dealing with issues as soon as possible. When your site is experiencing troubles, you’ll want to get in touch with your hosting provider to get some prompt and effective solutions. The support team should be available to you over multiple channels such as phone, email, and contact forms or help ticket systems.

Additional ways for your provider to offer solutions is through help forums, knowledge bases, FAQ pages, and so forth. A good choice in hosts will provide both experienced, well-trained help staff and numerous support options.

Backup

Business continuity is also an important element of good business planning, especially for online companies with critical data on a remote server. Preserving your data is essential to maintaining business operations. Corrupt system files, hackers, bad weather, and power outages can all result in data loss.

Your best protection against this is a web hosting provider that can put adequate data backup plans in place. Your data needs to be backed up frequently so you have the most up-to-date versions possible available to restore from. Both backups and restores of files and apps should be automated as much as possible to support high uptime.

Take some time to learn about your host’s disaster recovery policies before you commit. Having current, dependable data backups will minimize your downtime and data losses. Loss of critical data like customer information could ruin your business if there aren’t copies ready to replace it.

To sum up, while both professional marketers and personal site owners understand the need to produce great content in order to draw traffic, many don’t appreciate the importance of finding the best web host for their needs and budget. Many site owners make the wrong choice because they choose the most affordable option or wind up with a hosting platform that lacks the features they need. There are plenty of web hosting choices out there, but it’s critical to the future of your site that you understand your needs and compare hosts in order to make the right selection.

If you’re planning to start or transfer a website, you need a quality web host that provides the tools and support you need. UKHost4u is a premier hosting company that offers a range of website packages to fit needs from personal blogs to multinational companies. Our state-of-the-art data centres are located outside London to ensure fast and reliable access. A variety of hardware, software, security, and support features allow us to customise your hosting solution.

To learn about the benefits of UKHost4u’s services, call 0330 088 5790 or +44.131 541 23 28, or email questions to: sales@ukhost4u.com.